Lewis Griswold

Tulare County teen weightlifters excel at youth national meet

Grace Jardon at USA Weightlifting Youth National Championships

Grace Jardon of Exeter lifts the barbell in competition at the USA Weightlifting Youth National Championships.
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Grace Jardon of Exeter lifts the barbell in competition at the USA Weightlifting Youth National Championships.

Two teen weightlifters from Tulare County competed in the USA Weightlifting Youth National Championships on June 26-28 in Bloomington, Minnesota, excelling in their categories.

Grace Jardon, 14, of Exeter, took third place overall in her age group and weight category.

Dylan Contreras, 15, of Visalia, racked up enough points to compete next year at the junior national level in Philadelphia.

Their trainer, Michael Craddock at Horizon Strength & Conditioning gym in Visalia, said Grace and Dylan succeed because of a relentless commitment to training, senses of humor and family support.

“That’s everything, especially when they are young,” he said.

USA Weightlifting events are held for youth (ages 17 and below), junior (18-20), senior (21-34) and masters (35 and over) levels.

Competition involves doing both the snatch and clean and jerk.

Snatch is weightlifter lingo for lifting the barbell from the ground to overhead in one motion, while clean and jerk means to lift from the ground to neck level before pushing the barbell overhead and ending with arms and legs straight.

The athlete gets three tries at each. The heaviest lifts achieved in each are added together for the overall total. The highest total wins.

Grace, competing in the age 14-15 category, lifted 51 kilograms in the snatch and 67 kilograms in clean and jerk, for an overall total of 118 kilograms.

Grace, who will be a freshman at Exeter High, said her favorite subject is science. She got started in lifting at age 11, following in the steps of her older brother.

“I like that it’s not really a team sport,” Grace said. “I rely on myself. If you do bad, you can only blame yourself.”

Craddock, her trainer, said Grace has the right attitude to avoid burnout.

“She has fun, which is big,” Craddock said. “Her sense of humor is awesome.”

Meanwhile, Dylan, competing in the age 16-17 category, lifted 95 kilograms in the snatch and 120 kilograms in the clean and jerk, for an overall total of 215 kilograms.

Dylan, who will be a junior at El Diamante High, likes English and gave up school sports to concentrate on weightlifting. He trains twice a day.

“He’s super dedicated and super hardworking,” Craddock said. “He’s a 24-hour athlete. He thinks about this all day long.”

Dylan started at age 12, also because of an older brother in the sport.

“It’s addicting,” he said. “The community is really supportive. The guy lifting the least weight, we’re all cheering him on. The guy lifting the most weight overall, we’re cheering him on.”

He made it to youth nationals last year and this year, and plans to go to Philadelphia in February.

TRANSIT APP: Visalia’s bus system has launched a clever smart phone app that provides bus locations in real time to riders.

A rider can view a map of a bus route and see exactly where the buses are. By tapping on the screen showing a map, a rider can view the estimated arrival time based on the actual location of the bus.

Another feature: notifications of arrival times can be sent to to the phone three, five or 10 minutes before the bus arrives.

Visalia transit division officials believe the new app, already in use in San Luis Obispo, is the most advanced among transit systems in the central San Joaquin Valley.

Visalia already has free wi-fi on all buses, and now there’s the app.

“We have to stay on top of this stuff,” said transit manager Monty Cox. “It’s almost demanded. People expect it.”

It’s free at the App Store or Google Play, or via links at the Visalia Transit website.

Those who don’t have a smart phone can still call Green Line transit information at (877) 404-6473 for up-to-the-minute info.

GARY PADEN: Tulare County Superior Court Gary Paden has been elected vice-president of the California Judges Association for a one-year term beginning Oct. 10.

Paden, appointed as judge 10 years ago, is serving a two-year term as presiding judge of the Superior Court.

Lewis Griswold covers the news of the South Valley for The Fresno Bee. He can be reached at 559-441-6104, @fb_LewGriswold